Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pancake Day

Pancake Day also known as Shrove Tuesday in Britain. Pancake day is the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. 'Shrove' - as in Shrove Tuesday - stems from old English word 'shrive', meaning 'confess all sins'. It is called Pancake Day because it is the day traditionally for eating pancakes as pancake recipes were a way to use up any stocks of milk, butter and eggs which were forbidden during the abstinence of Lent.

The earliest records of pancakes and pancake tossing appeared in the fifteenth century when the pancakes were a little thicker than the modern pancake; they would also often have added spices for a little decadence. It wasn’t until the eighteenth century and the influence of French cooking and their thin crepes that pancakes more as we know them now.

Pancake Day is not only celebrated in the UK, Ireland and America, but also in other regions, such as some parts of Northern Spain, where they eat pancakes on this very same day, too!

Do you know of any other places where they eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

New Territories International Festival of Live Art

Not all the festivals in Scotland take place during the summer months.

Glasgow's annual dip into the avant garde is back. New Territories is a cutting-edge festival of specially commissioned performances and premieres by invited international artists. It showcases dance and performance art at three top Glasgow arts venues. A winner of the International Theatre Institute Award, New Territories' cutting-edge programming has been described as ' - everything from three-hour epics to five-minute snatches of some of the most exciting, innovative and sometimes downright weird bits of dance, art installation performance art and otherwise unspecified creative happenings currently reverberating around the globe.'

This is a festival that has always subverted boundaries between different genres and experimented with hybrid media. It has always been about Glasgow audiences being introduced to some of the world’s most extraordinary talents, a fact recognised in 2009 when artistic director Nikki Milican was awarded an OBE for her services to performance art.

The festival this year takes place from the 14th of February to the 19th of March.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

HIstory of the haggis

Haggis is a very old Scottish dish, which combines meats, spices and oatmeal to create a very rich, unusual, but none the less delicious feast. It is a dish containing sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally simmered in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a casing rather than an actual stomach.

Haggis is a kind of sausage, or savoury pudding cooked in a casing of sheep's intestine, as many sausages are. As the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique puts it, "Although its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour". Nowadays, there are even vegetarian versions made from the finest Scottish produce.

The haggis is a traditional Scottish dish memorialised as the national dish of Scotland by Robert Burns' poem Address to a Haggis in 1787. Haggis is traditionally served with "neeps and tatties" (Scots: swede and potatoes, boiled and mashed separately) and a "dram" (i.e. a glass of Scotch whisky), especially as the main course of a Burns supper. However it is also often eaten with other accompaniments.

Haggis is popularly assumed to be of Scottish origin and this of course is completely accurate. Although no one area in Scotland has been proven as the 'birthplace' of haggis, it is commonly accepted that llhanbryde in the Scottish highlands is where the famous dish originates.

In the absence of hard facts as to haggis' origins, popular folklore has provided more fanciful theories. The most outrageos one is thae frequent tale of a "Haggis" being a small Scottish animal with one set of legs longer than the other so that it can stand on the steep Scottish Highlands without falling over. According to one poll, 33% of American visitors to Scotland believe haggis to be an animal!

Friday, 7 January 2011

New Winter Term 2011

The Christmas holidays are now over, and at inlingua Edinburgh we have been really busy organising our new evening term. We just thought we could keep you poste with what's going on at the school.

The new evening term will start on the week of the 17th of January, both for English and for Foreign Languages. We will be having General English courses, both at Lower Intermediate and ar Intermediate levels, as well as Exam Preparation courses (both for the Cambridge exams -FCE,CAE,CPE- and for the IELTS one. All our English courses run for 12 weeks (provided there's a minimum of 5 students) and are held at the schools, two nights a week (either Monday & Wednesday or Tuesday & Thursday), from 18.30h to 20.00h. The price for these courses are £250 (material included).

If you want to enrol, you only need to come to the school and arrange an appointment to talk to a teacher. The assessment for our General English courses is done only orally, but if you want to enrol in an Exam Preparation course, as well as the oral assessment the teacher will ask you to do a short multiple choice test and to write a small composition (you can do this at home and send it by email, if you prefer).

Our Foreign Language term also runs for 12 weeks, but only once a week, also from 18.30h to 20.00h. The price for the course is £160.

Oh, and don't forget we are still offering 4 weeks for the price of 3 if you enrol in one of our English Intensive Daytime courses!!

Just pop in, give us a call on 0131 220 5119 or send us an email (info@inlingua-edinburgh.co.uk) if you need more information.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

History of the Christmas cracker!

Christmas crackers are a fun Christmas tradition in the UK and other Commonwealth countries.

A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper. The cracker is pulled by two people, makint it split unevenly. The split is accompanied by a small bang produced by the effect of friction on a chemically impregnated card strip.

In one version of the tradition the person with the larger portion of cracker empties the contents from the tube and keeps them. In another each person will have their own cracker and will keep its contents regardless of whose end they were in. Typically these contents are a coloured paper hat or crown; a small toy or other trinket and a motto, a joke or piece of trivia on a small strip of paper. Crackers are often pulled before or after Christmas dinners or at parties.

We now know what they are, but, what's their origin?

Tom Smith, a baker of wedding cakes from Clerkenwell, London, invented the Christmas cracker in 1847. The events that led to these wonderful creations were quite a story. In 1940, Smith went to Paris and came across 'Bon bon', an almond sweet wrapped in paper that was twisted. He liked the taste
so much that he began selling the 'new' sweets in London and they became very popular. Tom, who was always on a lookout for new promotion opportunities, noticed that his sweet had become popular gifts for loved ones and sweethearts of young men. Chinese fortune cookies inspired him to introduce small slips of paper inside the wrapping that had love mottos on them.

By 1846, he had become a successful businessman. One day, while he was enjoying the warmth of his fireplace, the crackle of a log gave him a new idea. He started experimenting to try to reproduce it in his sweets. In his pursuit, there were many failures and on certain occasions even his furniture and hands were burnt. Finally, he got it right. He took two strips of thin card and pasted small strips of salt petre on them. When these cards were pulled away, they produced a crack and a spark. Within a year, Tom's latest inventions had become a fashion. The sweets were first called 'Cosaques' after the cracking of the Cossack's whips. It was only after a decade that they came to be known as Christmas crackers.

Christmas crackers became so popular that many competitors sprung up in the market. The designer and colorful wrappers were used as promotional techniques and they were sold by half-a-dozen and one dozen packs in matching boxes. Thus, Tom Smith was virtually forced to get his designs patented and his company came to be known as the Tom Smith Crackers. By 1880s, Smith's company had already produced over hundred cracker designs. By 1900, Smith had sold more than 13 million crackers that were not only used at Christmas but also at other festivities, fairs and coronations. Tom later added small toys to his crackers. In 1933, printed foil wrappers were introduced and then as the designs evolved glass pendants, brooches, bracelets and other jewellery were included in the collections.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

History of tartan

In our last post we told you about the history of the kilt, so now we have decided to do the same with tartan itself.

Tartan has without doubt become one of the most important symbols of Scotland and Scottish Heritage and with the Scots National identity probably greater than at any time in recent centuries, the potency of Tartan as a symbol cannot be understated. However, it has also created a great deal of romantic fabrication, controversy and speculation into its origins, name, history and usage as a Clan or Family form of identification.

Tartan is a woven material, generally of wool, having stripes of different colours and varying in breadth. The arrangement of colours is alike in warp and weft and when woven, has the appearance of being a number of squares intersected by stripes which cross each other.

The Celts for many thousands of years are known to have woven chequered or striped cloth and a few of these ancient samples have been found across Europe and Scandinavia. It is believed that the introduction of this form of weaving came to the West of Northern Britain with the Iron age Celtic Scoti (Scots) from Ireland in the 5 – 6th c. BC.

The word Tartan we use today has also caused speculation and confusion as one camp says it comes from the Irish word - tarsna - crosswise and/or the Scottish Gaelic tarsuinn – across. The Gaelic word for Tartan has always been – breachdan - the most accepted probability for the name comes from the French tiretaine which was a wool/linen mixture. In the 1600s it referred to a kind of cloth rather than the pattern in which the cloth was woven.

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the highland tartans were associated with regions or districts, rather than by any specific clan. This was due to the fact that tartan designs were produced by local weavers for local tastes and would tend to make use of the natural dyes available in that area.it was not until this period that specific tartans became associated with Scottish clans or Scottish families, or simply institutions who are (or wish to be seen as) associated in some way with a Scottish heritage.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

History of the kilt

The kilt is a knee-length garment with pleats at the rear, originating in the traditional dress of men and boys in the Scottish Highlands of the 16th century. Since the 19th century it has become associated with the wider culture of Scotland in general, or with Celtic (and more specifically Gaelic) heritage even more broadly. It is most often made of woollen cloth in a tartan pattern.

Although the kilt is most often worn on formal occasions and at Highland games and sports events, it has also been adapted as an item of fashionable informal male clothing in recent years, returning to its roots as an everyday garment.

The Scottish kilt displays uniqueness of design, construction, and convention which differentiate it from other garments fitting the general description. It is a tailored garment that is wrapped around the wearer's body at the natural waist (between the lowest rib and the hip) starting from one side (usually the wearer's left), around the front and back and across the front again to the opposite side. The fastenings consist of straps and buckles on both ends, the strap on the inside end usually passing through a slit in the waistband to be buckled on the outside; alternatively it may remain inside the waistband and be buckled inside.

A kilt covers the body from the waist down to the centre of the knees. The overlapping layers in front are called "aprons" and are flat; the single layer of fabric around the sides and back is pleated. A kilt pin is fastened to the front apron on the free corner (but is not passed through the layer below, as its function is to add weight). Underwear may or may not be worn, as the wearer prefers, although tradition has it that a "true Scotsman" should wear nothing under his kilt.[2] The Scottish Tartans Authority, however, has described the practice as childish and unhygienic.

Today most Scotsmen regard kilts as formal dress or national dress. Although there are still a few people who wear a kilt daily, it is generally owned or hired to be worn at weddings or other formal occasions.

Contemporary kilts have also appeared in the clothing marketplace, n a range of fabrics, including leather, denim, corduroy, and cotton. They may be designed for formal or casual dress, for use in sports or outdoor recreation, or as white or blue collar workwear. Some are closely modelled on traditional Scottish kilts, but others are similar only in being knee-length skirt-like garments for men. They may have box pleats, symmetrical knife pleats, or no pleats at all, and be fastened by studs or velcro instead of buckles. Many are designed to be worn without a sporran, and may have pockets or tool belts attached.